This Tip Will Help you Master the Breakaway
There’s nothing more thrilling than facing a shooter one-on-one and shutting them down.
Shootouts decide many games and tournaments and they’re your opportunity to steal the show. To be the hero.
Think of the 2014 Olympics, Quick versus Bobrovsky.
When I faced a breakaway or a shootout in AAA and Juniors, I simply “tried my hardest to stop it.”
I’d be really nervous, and I’d be thinking, what if he does this, or what if he does that? The player would pick up the puck and I’d try and grit my way to the save.
I was fortunate to enjoy a lot of success in Juniors, but I never felt in control of a shootout or breakaway. They seemed totally uncontrollable, which is a bad feeling for a goalie!
Then, I got to Cornell University, and my freshman year, in a pre-season intersquad scrimmage, there was a penalty shot called. A very skilled forward would take it against Junior, Ben Scrivens (Montreal Canadiens).
I went to the bench to watch and our senior captain says, no chance he beats Scrivens on a breakaway.
I was like, wow, how can you say that so confidently?
The forward made three head fakes and some stick magic, he pulled it to the side, shot – GLOVE save. Not even close…
I thought, “how can he be so hard to beat on a breakaway?!”
Fortunately for me, I’d get to see Scrivens’ game, day in and day out, for the next few years. I learned so much from practicing and training with Scrivs, but the most important thing could have been learning how to master breakaways.
One of the moves that Oshie beat Bobrovsky on in the famous Olympic shootout, was a move that Scrivs saved from Oshie a year earlier in the NHL shootout, again, he’s world-class.
Your head angle and eyes are essential elements to mastering breakaways, but I want to focus on one, very important detail, that you can implement right away.
Don’t beat yourself, make them beat you.
How many times do you see a goalie bite on a head fake or stick fake and go flying out of the net and the player just slides the puck right in?
I know they’re talented, but we’re beating ourselves.
I used to be so worried about getting scored on that if it looked like he was maybe possibly going to shoot, I’d bite, just in case. This made sure I didn’t get beat with an easy one, but it certainly didn’t make a lot of saves.
Usually, it was a fake and they would go right around me for an easy goal.
Then I watched Scrivs. As they would get dangerously close he would wait at or near the top of the crease. They would make a great fake or two, and he just stayed there!
Here’s what’s crazy, they expected him to fade back, to shrink, (like most goalies do), but he stayed big and next thing you know they’re about to run into him.
Usually, the player would be surprised! He would make a panic shot right into Scrivs or try skating around him.
For a goalie, at the top of your crease, a push back to your post is one of the most basic butterfly slides there is, you can do that in your sleep.
If you don’t beat yourself, now you’re forcing the player to beat you.
If you don’t bite early, you are making it WAY harder on them.
This is challenging because it’s uncomfortable. We feel a need to move back and ‘not get beat’ but by retreating early or too quickly, we usually open up holes for goals.
Or, in other words, we beat ourselves.
Trust your skating! The recovery to your post is NOT a difficult move if you’re ready for it.
Commit to forcing them to make the hard move (instead of giving up your ground) and then make the slide that you’ve done thousands of times right to your post.
Once I made this adjustment I could feel myself take control of breakaways. I no longer hoped to make the save or worried what they were going to do.
Remember, we take away their time and space when they get close to us.
By a certain point, if they didn’t shoot, I was ready to stand my ground, force them to commit to a side and simply slide with them.
Skate to the post, eyes down, and gloves extending down to the puck – easy save.
This one adjustment made me incredibly confident facing breakways and it will for you too.